An alternate juror in the contentious child rape case against the brother of hip-hop icon Nicki Minaj thinks the trial should end with an acquittal.
John Labau, dismissed Wednesday as the panel began deliberations, said there were enough questions to find Jelani Maraj not guilty of sexually assaulting his 11-year-old stepdaughter.
“Beyond a reasonable doubt, I don’t think there was enough evidence there to convict him,” said Labau, 33, of Freeport, L.I. “Do I think maybe something happened? Probably.
“But not enough to convict him by what we’re told to convict on.”
The panel of eight men and four women spent much of the day listening to readbacks of trial testimony.
Both the accuser and her younger brother, in graphic testimony, recounted the sexual attacks that prosecutors charge began in the months before Maraj married their mother in 2015.
Nicki Minaj was not called as a witness for her brother.
(ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
The little boy testified that he accidentally stumbled upon the defendant raping his sister in their Baldwin, L.I., home.
The young girl detailed the sexual assaults that occurred as often as four times a day when Maraj was alone in the home with her.
Labau said the alleged victim’s account of what happened did not ring true with him.
“I felt like her testimony seemed way too staged,” he said. “I was looking for more emotion, more crying … I wanted to believe everything she was saying, but it was just too much.”
The defense contended the allegations were completely bogus and motivated by a chance at shaking down Maraj’s wealthy sister for $ 25 million in hush money.
Maraj (c.) could face a jail term of 15 years-to-life in prison.
(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)
The Nassau County Court trial began with opening statements on Oct. 19. If convicted, Maraj could face a jail term of 15 years-to-life in prison.
Ten-time Grammy nominee Minaj earned a reported $ 16 million this year — making her the highest-earning female rapper on the annual Forbes magazine list of highest-paid hip hop stars.
Despite much speculation and rumor, Queens native Minaj was not called as a witness for her brother. And Jelani Maraj did not testify in his own defense.
But a prosecution witness testified that semen found on the accuser’s pajama bottoms was a one-in-291 billion match with defendant Maraj.
Defense attorney David Schwartz, in his closing argument, accused Maraj’s now ex-wife of planting the DNA.